by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
Choosing the right multivitamin can be confusing. There are conflicting claims about nutrients and dosages, as well as contradictions about recent research on multivitamins reported in the media. We do know that science in this area is rapidly evolving. But the number of choices at the vitamin and grocery store is overwhelming. How do you find the best multivitamin for women?
Understand the essential nutrients your body needs
Every day we need certain raw materials to support the vast biological mechanisms that fuel our physical and mental activity, support our immune defenses, and regenerate skin, muscle, blood, tissue, and bone. This fuel comes in the form of macronutrients — protein, carbohydrates, and fat — and micronutrients — vitamins and minerals. We also require essential fatty acids, which are often overlooked. Our bodies need a ready supply of all these nutrients on hand to function properly.
Vitamins and minerals work together
Every essential nutrient has a vital task in our bodies and each one usually works in concert with one or several others. For example, vitamin E works more efficiently in the presence of vitamin C. Calcium has a much higher absorption rate when taken with magnesium. And zinc may assist a variety of other nutrients to bolster the immune system. It’s impossible to isolate the effect of each vitamin — just as it’s impossible to isolate a single vitamin deficiency as the cause of any given symptom. For example, vitamin B deficiency can result in symptoms resembling vitamin D deficiency, and so on. That’s why the best multivitamins are well-rounded — to ensure that we benefit from the synergistic effect of all the nutrients working together.
- Detoxification with antioxidants
- The immune system to fight infection
- Blood clotting
- Wound healing
- Bone growth and strength
- Hormone production
- The conversion of food into energy
- Healthy cell regeneration
It’s also important to remember that adequate levels of essential fatty acids (like a high-quality fish oil supplement) can help prevent inflammation and contribute to stable cholesterol levels which benefit hormonal balance.
Our Essential Nutrients are formulated especially for women and offer all the benefits you need in a multivitamin, while our Omega-3’s are made of the highest quality fish oil to support heart, eye, and skin health.
How much is enough? The controversy over Recommended Daily Allowances
Diseases like rickets and scurvy led to the development during WWII of the Required Daily Allowances (RDA’s) for vitamins and minerals, but these RDA’s were meant to be bare minimums, not optimal dosages. Unfortunately the RDA’s are not a good guide for modern consumers who want to use nutritional supplements to support optimal health and prevent disease. And while nutritional science has made stunning progress in the last 60 years, there is no consensus yet about optimal dosages for multivitamins or multi-minerals.
What we do know today is that significantly higher doses of vitamins and minerals are needed for optimal health than are recommended in the RDA’s. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for example, established therapeutic dosages many times higher than the RDA’s. What’s needed is long-term study of the effects of different dosages, plus a better understanding of how nutritional supplements might be personalized to each individual’s needs. In the meantime, we recommend a conservative but therapeutic dose based on the latest nutritional science.